Food Scientists Trying To Develop Kale Aimed At Picky American Palates

Image courtesy of afagen

We all know that kale is trendy, but if it were up to some American consumers, it wouldn’t be, well, quite so kale-y.

Horticulture professor Philip Griffiths from Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science and his graduate student, Hannah Swegarden, are working on a new variety of kale designed with Americans in mind, NPR’s The Salt reports.

See, kale has usually been bred both to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it — like insects and rough weather — as well as to appeal to consumers’ palates. But the resulting traits don’t necessarily translate into a pleasing taste for consumers, so the team is trying to change that.

As part of that effort, they’re crowdsourcing consumers’ feelings on kale — and finding that some don’t necessarily like everything about the leafy green. To that end, they’re finding that many participants in their focus group were recommending things that could change the definition of what makes kale, kale. In one example, participants thought kale could have a softer, less fibrous leaf.

“It’s difficult to do that because that’s changing the plant a lot,” says Swegarden, adding that a softer plant could also prove tastier to insects.

The scientists will now use the feedback they received to craft a survey and send it to a wider population of consumers.

Don’t like how bitter and tough kale is now? Sorry, but it will be at least eight years before the new breed will end up on shelves, the researchers say, because of the time it takes to grow and produce kale.

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